Big ABV, big malt beers need a lot of time to mature and mellow out. You try to drink a three week old barleywine and it'll taste like sugary gasoline with a touch of a$$ in it. Off the top of my head the only real "big beer" (10%+ abv) that is drinkable early is maybe a monster IPA. Other than that, the yeast just did an a$$ton of work and need time to clean up their mess. In addition, beers like that need thetime for the alcohol to mellow out and blend in with the malt background.
Aging beers is done for very real reasons. Beer will change dramtically over time in a bottle and that change is usually what makes a style a style.... And barleywines are a perfect example.
Hell... I just bought a case of Bigfoot an I'm not planning on opening a single one for a couple of years. I have two older Bigfoots... One from 2000 and one from 2001. I hve Celebration Ales from '99 and '00. I have Stateline barleywines from '05.
Thats when they start getting good.
Oh, and sorry.... From personal experience, our club does a "big beer" group brew every year and ages it in an oak barrel. We dont bottle it until it is at least a year old. I have an '07 barleywine we made, an '08 braggot, an '09 quad and the RIS is still in the barrel. And they all get better with each passing year